THE doctor behind a campaign to stop the smacking of children has welcomed legislation to ban corporal punishment.

New legislation will outlaw the physical punishment of children in Wales from March 21, although it will still be legal across in the Forest of Dean where Dr Rowena Christmas partly practises.

Dr Christmas, a GP in St Briavels and Trellech and chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Wales, said: “The evidence is absolutely compelling that physically punishing a child can be harmful to the wellbeing of both child and parent.

“It offers no benefit that cannot be gained from another method of discipline but is associated with a broad range of harms that can last a lifetime.”

Dr Christmas launched a campaign to ban smacking when her motion to support legal measures prohibiting a defence of reasonable punishment was backed by the Royal College of GPs, which represents more than 50,000 doctors, in 2019.

She said at the time: “I’m very grateful for all of the support I have had from colleagues and delighted that the RCGP Council saw the benefit in the College taking a clear stance on this important issue.

“I appreciate that this is an emotive topic and have come across strongly held opinions.

“It is important to say that his is not about wanting to criminalise parents, it is about supporting them…

“It (smacking) offers no benefit that cannot be gained from another method such as timeout or withdrawal of privileges.”

From March 21 2022, the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 will come into force, removing the historic defence of reasonable punishment and giving children the same legal protection from assault as adults.

Welcoming the change in the law, Gwent Police Chief Constable Pam Kelly, said: “The safeguarding of children is paramount and police colleagues across Gwent work closely with partner agencies to ensure that the protection and safety of children is a priority.”